Education Officer’s Report – Week 5, Sem 2, 2016

Liam Carrigan and Dylan Griffiths

On Wednesday the 17th students from Sydney College of the Arts and main campus held a brief occupation of the student Centre. During the occupation, the SCA campaign put an ultimatum to university management, if the campaign demands were not met by the end of the week we would escalate. The university has made no correspondence to the SRC or other members of LET SCA STAY saying that no cuts to staff and facilities of SCA will occur, that the B.Visual Arts has been reinstated or that they will LET  SCA STAY where it is.

So I guess the campaign will have escalated by the time this issue of Honi is released.
At the August 17th rally and SCA student strike, Hall Greenland, a trot and ex editor of this paper, spoke about the campaign to have Marxism and feminism taught in the philosophy program. The University expelled Hall after a long term occupation escalated the campaign. This Education Officer, and I’m sure other members of the SRC hope not to follow his fate.

Get involved in the campaign by keeping update over the LET SCA STAY and SCAR Facebook pages.

The 60% staff reduction and massive cuts to SCAs curriculum are the product of poor funding to higher education by the federal government.  With the Liberal government cutting over $2 billion dollars form the sector last budget and continuing to push deregulation light its essential we link the struggles and turn out for the August 24 NDA 1PM Fisher Library.

Student Housing Officer’s Report – Week 5, Sem 2, 2016

Justine Amin, Jenna Schroder and Llewellyn Williams-Brooks

SRC’s Student Housing Affordability portfolio and 180Degrees Consulting have started a collaborative project that will look to research how to ensure cheaper accommodation for a wider range of students in the University’s 2020 accommodation restructure. It’s slow work but will have results by the end of semester so as to ensure the SRC has the knowledge and abiltiy formally lobby the university from 2017 onwards.

Sexual Harassment Officer’s Report, Week 5, Sem 2, 2016

Olivia Borgese

“I’ve spoken to students all around Australia and it’s the same story. It feels like groundhog day.”

Bill Murray’s iconic film is a sad but fitting reference to the discourse and lack of University action in regards to sexual harassment and assault on campus. After reading Nina Dillon Britton’s article on Nina Funnell in Honi (‘The Most Empowering Thing I Ever Did Was Politicize My Own Assault’), the driving force behind Funnell’s advocacy for sexual assault survivors strikes me as just this; students valiantly leading the charge whilst the university drags its feet behind, bringing a very lacklustre effort to any change.
The momentous success of student activism against sexual harassment and assault on campus this year has received a lot of positive media coverage. Yet the University’s constant failure to support students that have experienced harassment and/or assault, combined with inadequate and inappropriate reporting mechanisms, a lack of disciplinary action against perpetrators and a timid avoidance of the deep-rooted misogyny of the colleges remains disappointing and disheartening.

Why has nothing changed since Funnell’s experience on campus? Why are we are still fighting for the students who have to face their perpetrators on Eastern Avenue with no institutional support? Why are there still no clear procedures on how to report experiences of harassment and assault?

Funnell doesn’t think anything has changed since she was at University and neither do I.
We can’t lose momentum, we need to re-frame the fight. Fighting against sexual harassment and assault shouldn’t be an activist movement – regardless of our gender, age, race, religion or political stance, we all deserve to be safe and supported on and off-campus.

If you are interested in ending the time loop, please send me an email at harassment.officers@src.usyd.edu.au or contact the Usyd Wom*n’s Collective 2016 via Facebook.

Wom*n’s Officer’s Report – Week 5, Sem 2, 2016

Anna Hush

During a busy week in Semester 1, in the midst of a flurry of media attention around Wesley College’s Rackweb, you may or may not have noticed that the university emailed a report called ‘Creating a Safer Community for All’ to all students. The report is based on a survey carried out last year, in which all students were invited to share their experiences of sexual harassment and assault, and of reporting these incidents to the university. It contained some very alarming statistics – less than 1% of even the most serious incidents are reported. 41% of students who reported their experience to the university found that they received no help.

Surveys like this are important, as they are the only way we can gauge the actual extent of the problem. If all we have are the numbers of reports (as revealed by Honi Soit under a Freedom of Information request), we’ll never know how many more incidents go unreported, silenced and swept under the rug.

In the next few months, the Australian Human Rights Commission will be rolling out a national survey on sexual harassment and sexual assault. It’s the first of its kind in Australia, and it will provide an invaluable insight into the extent of the problem on university campuses around the country. A cross-section of USyd students will be sent an invitation to participate, and I urge everyone to take part, even if you have never experienced sexual harassment or assault. It is crucial that we have accurate figures on students’ experiences – especially around the reporting process – to be able to shape future action and put a stop to this epidemic.

The Wom*n’s Collective and the Human Rights Commission will be co-hosting a launch for the survey on campus in a couple of weeks, and all students are invited to attend. Keep an eye out on the Wom*n’s Collective Facebook page if you’re keen to come along and share your thoughts and experiences. If you’d like to get in touch with the collective at any time, our email is usydwomenscollective@gmail.com.

With feminist love and rage, Anna

Vice President’s Report – Week 5, Sem 2, 2016

Anna Hush

If you’re one of the three people who actually read this reports section in Honi, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been harping on about Radical Education Week for a little while now. Well, time has flown by, and Week 5 – Rad Ed Week – is already here! I’m very proud of the hard work of activists in the SRC who have built this event from the ground up. We set out to share the knowledge and skills developed in collectives and activist groups with the broader student population, and promote engagement and collaboration between different groups. Although we come from different groups and backgrounds, we share a dissatisfaction with the kind of education that neoliberal universities provide us with – heavily based on theory, centred around the perspectives of old, rich white men, and bearing little relevance to our work in communities towards social justice and liberation.

We’ve created a program of events that we hope will engage the student community, and be accessible to people who haven’t necessarily been involved in activism before. Our events span the spectrum from how to run a successful campaign, the legal knowledge you need to participate in direct actions, and how to work in solidarity with Indigenous communities, to how to file a Freedom of Information request and facilitate a meeting.
Throughout the process of developing Radical Education Week, I have been continually overwhelmed by the strength of SRC collectives like the Environment Collective, the Indigenous Collective, the Autonomous Collective Against Racism, the Education Action Group, the Queer Collective and the Wom*n’s Collective (although perhaps I’m a bit biased about that one). These are all great examples of the power non-hierarchical, collective organising amongst passionate students. In the face of a corporatised university, a conservative government and a regressive social climate, collaboration between activists are more necessary than ever – and our collectives are thriving.
Join us on Eastern Avenue from Tuesday to Thursday to learn about how you can get involved, and come along to our workshops to participate in an exciting, innovatory week of learning.

President’s Report – Week 5, Sem 2, 2016

Chloe Smith

It’s been another busy week at your SRC! SRC activists helped to organise and build the SCA rally on Wednesday, which saw an amazing turnout from both Callan Park and main campus students! SCA students and staff voted overwhelmingly to go on strike for the day and attend the protest, calling on the university to ensure the continued provision of vital facilities and resources for their courses, and guarantee no staff or course cuts. There’s plenty more to come so watch this space!

I also attended a workshop with some of the SRC’s casework staff around consultation regarding the new special consideration process. As regular readers of Honi know, this follows many meetings with university management to convey the concerns raised by members of the student body about their challenging experiences with the new system. This will be an ongoing process but I’m proud to say that the fight to make special consideration fair and accessible for all is a key objective of this year’s office bearing team, and will be until the job is done. Always remember to get in touch with our casework team if you have any concerns.

The SRC also raised some important issues on students’ behalf at this week’s Academic Board meeting, including special consideration, lecture recording availability, and academic honesty procedures. The SRC has pushed for a university-wide lecture recording policy for many years, yet some lecturers are still opting out of the system for reasons that will put many students at a disadvantage, especially those juggling multiple work and study commitments, or students with disabilities.

Myself and other student representatives also had the honour of attending the Rainbow Wedding on Tuesday, hosted by many queer action collectives and groups. The event celebrated the LGBTIQ+ community and also called on the university to make some changes to further our goal of equality for all on campus, including making it easier for trans students to change their names and pronouns on class lists and university administration, and coming out publicly in support of marriage equality!

Finally, remember the NDA is happening next Wednesday! This is an opportunity to make it clear to the university, the government, and broader society that students value our education and won’t be taken for granted. 1pm August 24th outside Fisher Library – money for higher education, not corporate tax evasion! Enjoy week 5!

Global Solidarity Officer’s Report – Week 4, Sem 2, 2016

Declan Maher & Pelin Ersoy, Justine Amin & Michelle Picone

The release of the Nauru Files has once again shone light on the horrendous treatment of refugees by the Australian government. This does not come as a surprise to anyone – it has been the policy of both Liberal and Labor for some years now to subject refugees to brutal torture in offshore concentration camps as a “deterrent”, that is, making them worse than wars, persecution and poverty that Australia is directly or indirectly complicit in causing. A policy so central to the project of both parties can only be defeated through mass action and by literally tearing down the fences imprisoning refugees, as happened in Woomera in 2002. The next rally to free the refugees is on August 27th, starting at 1pm at Town Hall.

The 2016 Rio Olympics is all over the news, along with little mention of protests that have surrounded the event, drawing attention to huge wealth inequality, the poor state of education, the clearing of favelas and other issues. As the torch approached the Opening Ceremony, it was headed by riot police firing rubber bullets at those who stood in its way. The event itself, however, hasn’t been completely apolitical – USA’s swimming gold medalist in Simone Manuel used her platform to speak out about police brutality in her home country. She said to the media on her victory, ”it means a lot, especially with what is going on in the world today, some of the issues of police brutality. This win hopefully brings hope and change to some of the issues that are going on. My colour comes with the territory.”

The Black Lives Matter movement has, in recent months, found footing in Australia after a number of large rallies, particularly in light of the report on the Don Dale prison in the Northern Territory, where predominantly Indigenous boys have been subject to various forms of torture from tear gas to restraining chairs to isolation. This is just another episode in the 228 year history of racism and genocide that is the Australian state. The Global Solidarity office will continue to support this struggle of Indigenous people against racism and oppression.

ACAR Report – Week 4, Sem 2, 2016

Aparna Balakumar, Elizabeth Mora, Lamya Rahman, & Adam Ursino

It’s been a busy year so far for the Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) and things are only about to get busier. Following on from the success of our events last semester, such as ACAR revue and our collaboration with SUDS, this semester ACAR intends to further solidify our campus presence with the launch of the Ethno-cultural Space sometime in early September. The room, located in Manning and provided by the USU, is open to all ethno-cultural students on campus and is expected to be not only a place where ethno-cultural clubs, societies and collectives can freely run meetings and workshops, but also just a nice, safe, and autonomous space for ethno-cultural students to meet and hang out on campus.  ACAR plans to take advantage of this great space as much as possible, with regular monthly collective meetings anticipated following the launch.

Additionally with semester two comes two big projects on ACAR’s creative agenda. The first is ACAR Honi, where for one week ACAR will take over the student newspaper, giving people of colour the chance to edit, produce, contribute, design, and write for an issue that amplifies and centre issues of race on campus and beyond. Since its first edition in 2014, ACAR Honi has given writers and designers of colour the rare opportunity to forefront their voices in student media, and this year we plan to go even bigger and better.
Second on the calendar is a first for ACAR – a performance show called Rehearsals for Life, running in conjunction with the USU’s Verge Festival. The theme of the show is expected to loosely cover the topics of childhood, adolescence, adulthood, maturity, death/silence all from the unique perspectives of performers of colour. Each performer will give their take on the theme through different mediums including but not limiting to music, poetry, acting, and singing. ACAR is optimistic about our first ever performance show and excited for its first time run as it fills a creative gap not covered by ACAR Honi – we encourage all student performers coming from an ethno-cultural background to apply.

Both projects are expected to launch on the same night – October 13th.

To find out how you can get involved in ACAR please join our Facebook group, ‘Autonomous Collective Against Racism’ searchable in the main University of Sydney group or like our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/usydacar

With love and rage,
Your 2016 OBs,
Lamya Rahman, Adam Torres, Una Madura Verde, and Aparna Balakumar

General Secretary – Week 4, Sem 2, 2016

Georgia Mantle

Since last fortnight I have been able to make some real progress with the issues of Lecture recordings. I personally spoke to the Chair of Academic Board, Tony Masters and explained the issues as well as provided him with some details of real students experiences and issues in relation to lecture recordings. I also raised the issues at SEG ED last week which seemed to be well received by the board members there. A lot of the board seemed shocked by what I was telling them as they seemed unaware this issues was happening which is why it is so important we stand up and let management know what is going on in their University! I will, however, continue to work on this issue as it is fair from solved.

Last week I had the pleasure of sitting in with the General Assembly at SCA where the students unanimously supported going on strike this Wednesday the 17th of August to stand against managements proposal to close SCA and move it to Camperdown/Darlighton campus while greatly reducing the offerings and specialized studio based practiced SCA is famous for. I encourage everyone to like the Facebook page ‘Let SCA Stay’ and to join the SCA students and your SRC reps on the 17th at 1pm at the Madsen Building to protest against the closure of SCA.
Another important rally coming up is the National Day of Action on the 24th of August where the Education Action Group will take a stand and fight against the governments cuts to higher education.

One last important thing is the Census date! The Census date for this semester is the 31st of August this is the deadline to withdraw from a subject and not have to pay! So right that one in your diary, but if you have any further concerns of questions about enrolment or withdrawing you can always come down to our office and see one of our dedicated caseworkers.

President’s Report – Week 4, Sem 2, 2016

Chloe Smith

Next week is Radical Education Week at Sydney Uni, as well as the NUS National Day of Action on Wednesday August 24. So it seems like as good a time as any to examine the state of higher education in Australian and at our university.
Severe cuts to higher education funding are back on the table under the current federal government. This is nothing new: successive governments have cut funding to universities and other institutions like TAFE, striking a massive blow not just to students, but also to the broader community and economy. International research shows that for every public dollar invested in higher education, $6 are saved through lower unemployment benefits and higher taxes.

It seems odd that a government which based its broader election campaign around “innovation” and “agility” would be unwilling to fund the very institutions and researchers who provide innovative ideas and technologies.

So why is education, a public good with a great investment return, seen as less worthy of government funding than other department areas? And why is it seen as fair for students to shoulder the cost burden of education through higher fees, brought on to make up the funding cut shortfall?
Clearly, despite the principle societies like Australia have been built on, that everyone deserves the right to an education, higher education is increasingly seen as a commodity: increasingly seen not as a right but as a privilege, where the quality of education provided is dependent less on your ability and more on your bank account and postcode.
It seems barely possible that less than 50 years ago, university education was free in Australia. Now the idea of students shouldering extreme debt for years after graduating is accepted as part and parcel with a degree.

So what can we do? For starters, students need to be aware and engaged with these issues. You can do this by attending an SRC Education Action Group meeting and the NDA next week. Read as much as you can and look at the policies of the major parties around education funding. We may be some time off the next election but we know that public opinion can change policy – as we saw with the failure to pass fee deregulation. And don’t just accept the rhetoric – challenge the narrative and move the parameters of the debate. Because investing in higher education is too important for us as a society to ignore, both now and for future generations.

Get informed, get involved. See you at the NDA and enjoy week four!